Over the past few years, the marketing industry in Asia has been been a lucrative spot for individuals planning to pursue a career in marketing. As a previously undeveloped market, Asia has left marketers with a huge space for growth and experimentation.
Recognising this growth opportunity, marketers have been keen on 'ticking' Asia of the checklist of the top places to work in. And why not? With the evolution of the digital, social and e-commerce platforms, the marketing space in Asia is abuzz with different activities.
Many marketers we spoke to reiterated the fact that Asia is one of the fastest growing regions globally, and a lot of trends start here. As such, marketers working here have a competitive advantage. Here are some of the other advantages of working in the region
- Constant change
There are various segmented markets in Asia with evolving sentiments, given that the region is developing with time. As such, change is a constant said Damien Cummings, previously the global head of digital marketing at Standard Chartered. Marketers are hence always ready for the curve ball.
“Constant learning has to occur in order to keep up with this ever evolving communications ecosystem,” added Piotr Jakubowski, CMO of Go Jek. He added that in this region, the evolution of marketing techniques, and the ways consumers respond to message types and channels constantly keeps marketers on their toes.
While acknowledging the fact that change is inevitable, Rod Strother, VP digital transformation, StarHub, explained that the pace of marketing in the industry has picked up tremendously in Asia.
This constant change forces marketers to think and act faster.
“[Marketing here] is faster – in every sense. Life operates at a completely different pace here and within business that means turnaround times often border on the ridiculous. And yet, there is always someone who will (although not always) attempt to deliver that. “
"Life operates at a completely different pace here and within business that means turnaround times often border on the ridiculous."
- Cultural influences
Asia has a myriad of cultures and many forward-thinking marketers consider culture as one of the main factors that shape the face of marketing in Asia. Cultural differences and expectation ensures that individuals in the marketing industry have their ‘A-game', said Cummings.
Linda Locke, creative director and CEO of Godmother added that while the Asian markets are similar in nature when it comes to the basics, every segment is different due to its cultural context and each market has a unique dynamic.
"Every market is at different stages of evolutionary momentum undergoing different phases of cultural and economic development. While there may exist some commonalities, the degree of evolution is different," she said. This makes the marketers more versatile and sensitive to cultural nuances.
Technology forms the propeller by means of which the industry struts ahead.In fact, most recently, globally acclaimed business school INSEAD ranked Singapore as one of the leading markets in global talent competitiveness due to well carved policies in areas such as education and technology. This was in The Global Talent Competitiveness Index 2017.
The tiny red dot came second to Switzerland but came ahead of United Kingdom (in at number 3) and the United States (in at number 4). Meanwhile, countries such as Indonesia now have over 88.1 million active internet users (according to statistics from We Are Social) and 43% of the population carry smartphones.
Malaysia also recently brought on board Jack Ma, founder of Alibaba Group and also a prominent global e-commerce leader, to act as digital economy adviser to the Malaysian government in a bid to push its smart nation agenda.
As such, one can easily predict that the marketing industry is Asia is going to only be more open to adopting new forms of technology in the near future.
To this, Cumming said: “The marketing industry in Asia is leaping in terms of its keenness in adopting new technology. The industry in Asia is unclogged with a new spirit in technology and innovation.”
Taking a slightly different stance, Locke added that because the marketing region is not homogeneous in nature with some markets more developed than others, the marketing industry here also gives "marketers more room to breathe and juggle with new forms of technology". As such, marketers can be highly versatile, vigilant and innovated here."
- Evolving online platforms
Connectivity, coming hand in hand with technology, is on the rise in Asia.
And with places such as India located in this part of the world, where nearly 1 billion people today live without access to internet, it is only a matter of time before tech players are able to push these folks online.
In fact, opportunities such as these provide marketers with a truly exciting challenge to reinvent what we already know, said Jakubowski. Speaking about his home market Indonesia, he said the platform Path has really picked up in prominence despite not having resonance in the rest of the region.
While no doubt the country is big on all things social boasting one of the highest number of Facebook users globally, and a growing number of LinkedIn and Twitter followers, Path has paved its way into the hearts of Indonesian locals. It is a social media app created with mobile in mind and according to reports on Business Insider Australia, just three weeks after launch, the app had been downloaded 1.5 million times.
Much like other social platforms, it enables users to connect with their friends and family but with its own little alternations that set it apart from other social media outlets. Because of the different nuances in the region and different levels of development, a marketers is able to exercise his own creativity to make a platform adapt for a market.
This leads us to experimentation. During a panel discussion, French sporting house Decathlon's SEA marketer in Singapore Clarence Chew said Singapore a “failure market” for the brand and use it as a test bed for all things new and shiny in the digital landscape. After all, failure is vital to any great discovery and innovation.
In Asia, because of the varied development stages, that there is a constant learning curve and marketers are able to constantly try new things to see how the market reacts.
Strother added that in Asia, there is more "leeway to experiment" when you’re working on a global brand.